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Cancer Care - Screening & Treatment

Get your screenings regularly and as recommended by the American Cancer Society. Clinical examinations, diagnostic imaging, and lab tests are the generally accepted prevention screenings to let you know you are cancer free. Screening locations for diagnostic imaging and lab tests include:

Women's Imaging Center at Longmont United Hospital

Directions Women's Imaging Center at Longmont United Hospital

Twin Peaks Imaging

Twin Peaks Imaging
1551 Professional Lane, Suite 155
Longmont, CO 80301
720.494.4777

Longmont Clinic

Longmont Clinic
1925 Mountain View Avenue
Longmont, CO 80501
303.776.1234

Screenings and Diagnostic Tools Available for Cancer Detection

Air Contrast Barium Enema (ACBE)

During this test, the patient is first given an enema containing barium. Then X-rays are taken, with the barium highlighting the inside of the colon. Sometimes air can be carefully inserted into the colon, making small lesions easier to see. This is called a double contrast barium enema. Only a double contrast barium enema is sensitive enough to be used for screening.

Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Your Primary Care Physician will recommend and order the appropriate screening for you. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used to provide anatomic information regarding the presence and extent of tumors.

Colonoscopy or Sigmoidoscopy

During a sigmoidoscopy, your physician uses a miniature scope inserted into the lower part of the bowel to examine the inside of last part of the colon for growths or abnormalities. Small growths, called polyps, can be removed quickly and without major surgery. Since polyps can become cancerous over time, removing them is the most important step in preventing the development of colon cancer. Removed polyps are tested to see if they are benign or malignant (cancerous).

A colonoscopy is essentially the same procedure, except the physician uses a longer tube to exam the entire colon.

Digital Rectal Exam

Your Primary Care Physician will recommend and order the appropriate screening for you. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used to provide anatomic information regarding the presence and extent of tumors.

Fecal Occult Blood Test

The fecal occult blood test is a valuable diagnostic tool for detecting colorectal cancer. The test picks up small amounts of blood in the stool. If positive, it indicates that something in the digestive tract may need further investigation. You can have this test done in your physician's office.

Cancer Genetic Counseling and the Family Connection

A percentage of certain cancers - including colorectal, breast, ovarian, and melanoma - have a hereditary component that can be passed from one generation to the next. If you have a family history of cancer on either your mother's or father's side and/or a personal history of cancer, you should look for the following risk factors:

  • Two or more family members on the same side of your family have had the same cancer
  • A family member was diagnosed with cancer at an unusually young age (e.g. breast cancer <45 years; colon cancer <50 years)
  • There appears to be a clustering of related cancers (i.e. breast/ovarian, or colon/uterine) in the family
  • One of your family members carries a known genetic mutation (e.g. BRCA1, BRCA2, MSH2, MLH1)

A genetic consultation will include:

  • A detailed review of your family and medical history
  • A risk assessment of the chance that the cancer in the family is hereditary
  • A discussion of the risks, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
  • An individualized schedule of screening examinations and discussion about cancer prevention
Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiology can help provide and maintain venous access for administration of chemotherapy. For tumors with a large blood supply and which are prone to bleeding, pre-operative embolization is available. This procedure entails placing a catheter into the arteries that supply a tumor and injecting small particles to block blood flow through those arteries. By eliminating or decreasing such blood flow, this reduces the likelihood of significant bleeding during surgery.

Mammography, Digital

Mammography along with physical breast examination is the screening of choice to detect early breast cancer.

Needle Biopsy

Needle Biopsies are performed either with stereotactic or ultrasound guidance.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood.

Positron emission tomography (PET)

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans are available through a mobile unit and, by earlier detection of cancer spread, can help direct appropriate treatment. This type of scan utilizes the higher metabolic rate of cancer cells compared to normal structures in order to distinguish between benign and malignant areas found on CT or MRI. The PET and CT images can be fused on a computer display for optimal accuracy.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of a part of the body. Your physician may also order a test called an endorectal ultrasound. A probe is inserted into the rectum to determine how large the tumor is, and whether it has spread. Tumors can require further testing through surgical biopsy.

Surgical Biopsy

Surgeons remove a sample of tissue from a tumor and send it to the pathologists for examination. Sometimes, if the lump is small enough, the surgeon can remove it completely during this procedure. Longmont United Hospital patients who need a surgical biopsy can be seen as outpatients in the Day Surgery Center.

Longmont United Hospital patients who need a surgical biopsy can be seen as outpatients in the Day Surgery Center.


Cancer Care: What will the results tell you?

Physicians at Longmont United Hospital use nationally recognized systems of staging to categorize the seriousness of the cancer and outline your treatment plan. Results from diagnostic tests including X-rays, ultrasound, biopsies, blood tests and other tests are combined to create a complete picture of where the cancer is located, how large the tumor is (if a tumor is present), whether the cancer has spread and what subtype of cancer it is. Staging is very important because it gives important diagnostic information in addition to defining therapy. Once the stage of the cancer is known, an individualized treatment plan can be developed.

Each type of cancer is staged according to specific characteristics. In general, though, "in situ" cancers have been diagnosed at the earliest possible stage.

  • Stage I or "local" cancers have been diagnosed early and have not spread.
  • Stage II has spread into surrounding tissues but not beyond the location of origin.
  • Stage III or "regional" has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV or "metastatic" cancers have spread to other parts of the body and are the most difficult to cure.

To better understand, please review staging at American Joint Committee on Cancer for more information.


What are your treatment options?

Cancer can be treated with:

Surgery

The Department of Surgical Services at Longmont United Hospital provides care and treatment for patients with a diagnosis of cancer. A multidisciplinary team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, registered nurses and surgical technologists all work together to help diagnose and treat patients who have cancer. We provide a variety of services from biopsies to major cancer surgeries like bowel resections, mastectomies and radical prostatectomies. We are equipped to offer the most up to date procedures including minimally invasive, laparoscopic and image-guided surgery.

It is our goal in surgery to provide each cancer patient with the highest quality of care for their disease, and at the same time, create an environment where each patient feels safe, respected and hopeful. The Planetree model of care is our guideline as we assist our surgery patients in this part of their journey toward healing.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy (also called radiation oncology) is the medical specialty whose purpose is the control or cure of certain disease processes, primarily cancer, using high-energy radiation.
Cells are the building blocks of the human body. Each body tissue and body organ is made up of billions of cells working together so each body system can function in a normal, useful way. Cancer begins because changes occur in cells of the body that cause them to act and reproduce in an abnormal way. Cancer cells are not normal cells therefore, they do not function as they should. Radiation therapy works by damaging the DNA of cells. Although some cancer cells reproduce more often than normal cells, they have a diminished ability to repair themselves. The DNA damage is inherited through cell division and causes them to die or reproduce more slowly.
There are different cancers, and each behaves differently. Radiation attempts to destroy the abnormal cancer sells in a particular part of the body. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery/ chemotherapy. There have been significant advances in the field of radiation therapy for cancer patients with the advances in computer technology. One key improvement has been the integration of sophisticated imaging methods into treatment delivery and treatment planning systems. These new techniques allow unprecedented accuracy and verification of the target tissue thereby sparing normal tissues and reducing side effects associated with treatment. Now, radiation therapy only affects the area of the body that is being treated.
The radiation therapy team ensures that each patient receives the full benefit of the radiation therapy treatment, while maintaining the highest quality of life possible.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, in its most general sense, refers to treatment of disease by chemicals that kill cells, both good and bad. Chemotherapy acts by killing cells that divide rapidly, one of the major properties of cancer cells. This means that it can also harm cells that divide rapidly under normal circumstances such as cells in the bone marrow, digestive tract and hair follicles. This property results in the most common side effects of chemotherapy: anemia (low red blood cell count), stomach upset and hair loss. Many of these drugs are given in different combinations to help improve the benefit while reducing the degree of toxicity, as different drugs have different side effects. (Toxicity refers to side effects that are related to the dose of a drug.) Newer chemotherapy agents are more specific to the cells they are attempting to destroy, thus limiting bad effects to normal cells.

Due to tremendous advances in chemotherapy in recent years, many cancers have become curable, especially when combined with surgery and radiation therapy. Often, the side effects of chemotherapy can be managed allowing many people to continue to work or manage a full schedule through their cancer treatment course. Supportive care, with drugs to help control chemotherapy related side effects of anemia and nausea have improved the degree of toxicity.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy, also called hormonal therapy, is used primarily for prostate and breast cancer. This type of treatment is used to keep cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow. Hormones are chemicals produced by glands in your body, and are circulated in the bloodstream. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that affect the way some cancers grow. If tests show that your cancer cells have estrogen, progesterone, and/or testosterone receptors (molecules found in some cancer cells to which estrogen and progesterone will attach), hormone therapy is used to block the way these hormones help the cancer grow. This treatment may include the use of drugs that change the way hormones work, or surgery to remove the ovaries that make female hormones, or the testicles, which produce male hormones.

Biological Therapy

Biological therapy, sometimes called immunotherapy or biotherapy is a relatively new addition to the family of cancer treatment. Biological therapies use the body's immune system, either directly or indirectly, to fight cancer or to lessen the side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments. The immune system is a network of cells and organs that function as the body's main defenses against infection and disease, including cancer. For example, the immune system may recognize the difference between healthy cells and cancer cells in the body and works to eliminate cancerous cells. However, the immune system does not always recognize cancer cells as “foreign.” Also, cancer may develop when the immune system breaks down or does not function adequately.

Biological therapies are designed to repair, stimulate, or enhance the immune system's responses.